America is slowly surrendering its ability to control the petroleum it offers to the American motorist. American petroleum companies have been snatched up by foreign companies with great vigor in the last few years, but the recent proposed acquisition of Pennzoil-Quaker State gives the merger mania a new twist.
In 1998, British Petroleum bought both Amoco and Arco, passing it off as a "merger of equals," but before the ink was dry on the Amoco deal, BP quickly announced that the new company would be run by British management according to British-company standards and that the Amoco executives who disagreed could join the other 10,000 U.S. employees who had just been fired.
Now Netherlands-based Royal/Dutch Shell is snatching up Pennzoil-Quaker State, increasing their share of the American motor-oil market from 3% to a whopping 35%. Pennzoil and Quaker State just merged last year under the usual premise that they needed to be bigger to be "more competitive." Not only will Shell buy its way into a full third of the market for lubricating oils, they will also gain control of over 2,000 Jiffy Lube oil-change centers across the country.
Formerly called Zapata Petroleum, Pennzoil was formed in part by President George Bush, Sr. Now that another American company has sold out to foreign investors, American consumers will unknowingly be sending more of their dollars overseas as we lose the ownership of the companies that, as General Motors recently put it, "Keep America Rolling."
It was interesting to hear that when British Petroleum acquired Amoco, they intended to replace all Amoco outlets with the BP format. Seeing that the plan has yet to be implemented on a large scale, maybe they decided it would be a good idea to keep the Amoco red, white and blue colors at their foreign gas stations after all.